Broken Stone Records Showcase @ Horse Bazaare – 19/02/2012

Going to see a live performance where you do not really know what to expect in terms of the quality of the acts involved can be daunting at times. However, when I got to the Horse Bazaar and saw the first band to play I knew I was in for a great night.

The Horse Bazaar is not a big venue but it was a good choice for the showcase, especially when the show involved a visual component. While the bands were playing there was a projection superimposed on the stage and the back wall which created a contrast, fluctuating between interesting and odd, displaying negatives of faces, lovebirds, anime, a Neanderthal being chased by a woolly rhino, a giant cat in a forest to name a few.

The Magnetic Heads were first up. There was a bit of an issue with the speakers – the speakers further from the stage cut on and off and finally decided not to work altogether – but the performance was not affected, with front man Jonathan Miller bringing a lax yet fun with a strong Australian feel to the music, reminiscent of Dick Diver and a bit of eighties pop thrown in. The set came to a strong finish by handing out tambourines to the audience and having a little dance to bring it home.

Caitlin Park came on stage next. After seeing them at the East Brunswick a little while ago it was good to see that they were more confident on stage, with newcomer Holly Austin – having only performed six times before the evening – bringing a lively quality to the performance, at one point bringing an omnichord into the already eclectic sound of the band. She and the drummer Eliza left the stage towards the end for Caitlin to fall back into a minimal performance, playing a new track which lead to Aiden, the lead singer of the Maple Trail making an appearance. The ladies came back on stage for “Warriors With Wild Hearts”.

The Maple Trail brought an earthy, down tempo feel to the evening, a bit slower than what I was expecting even with a synth involved but still, the accompanying vocals were really memorable, especially when Caitlin Park returned the favour in her set and had another duet. The visual aspect became a bit hazy to complement the sound.

Then came Sister Jane. Throughout the night I had seen this guy in a cowboy hat dancing around and having a good time but little did I realise that he was Dan Davey, the male vocalist for the band. His energy did not die off once he got in front of the audience – in fact Sister Jane brought the bloody house down. Drawing on the original sound of rock, raw roadhouse, these guys had everyone dancing around for the entire set. I espied a couple of people that were walking past the venue about twenty minutes before the pub was to close who decided to come in and pay the cover charge just to see these guys play; a great sign of a great band. Leading lady Lauren Crew has an incredible voice as well, jumping onto the flute now and then with a harmonica joining the fray once or twice. The performance spilled onto the dance floor as two guitarists could not fit on stage and I think that added more to the feeling of the crowd getting into it and pulling out a few moves. With the last song of the evening “Outer Suburbs of the Soul” leaving everyone on a high I can safely say they are now one of my favourite local acts.

Melbourne might be the home of live music but the Broken Stone Records showcase was a reminder that that does not mean the rest of Australia is lacking in on stage talent. Not by a long shot.
by Mason Smith

March 12th 2012
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